Vampire Physiology

From the moment of their awakening following the embrace, vampires are profoundly aware that they are different. It is more than just facts such as lack of heartbeat, pulse, or warmth. It is a complete physiological change that can be felt from the first few seconds and stays with them their entire unlives.
This file provides an overview of general mundane facts on vampire physiology and how they differ from mortals.
Note - This is an overview. Links are provided to more detailed documentation.

An Undead Body


A vampire's body remains as it was at the point of death, and will aim to return to that state. This includes (normal) wounds, hairlength, color, piercing or tattoos. Any change applied after the embrace only sticks until the next sunrise.


Organs and glands, including the heart, do not work. Therefore they do not breathe, eat, sigh, swallow, blink, fart, or pee. Remember this when you are playing - 'She sighs and says…' - this is a mortal thing to do. Vampires do need to draw in air when they speak, but that is not the same as breathing, and that spoken breath will not steam on cold winter air, because…


A vampire's blood does not circulate, and their cells do not burn energy, therefore they are cold to the touch. Only the unobservant will fail to notice this even when just shaking hands. A freshly fed vampire will be somewhat warm for up to an hour, provided they consumed a LOT of blood in the feeding. If it was only a small amount then it makes no difference - they are cold. At best a vampire will feel room temperature, about an average of 70F or 20c, nearly 30% colder than a normal human being.

Pale Skin

A vampire's skin is pale and smooth (unless they are of a clan that specifically makes it otherwise). The paleness comes from the fact that there is no blood circulating near the surface. Paleness increases when the amount of blood the vampires' system decreases, from relatively normal when full, to corpse-like when low. The smoothness comes from the same effect that is observed in corpses where the skin takes on a smooth and waxy feel shortly after death.

No Bodily Fluids

Vampires do not have saliva or any other bodily fluid. The only way to mimic these things is to force blood through the appropriate tissues. All orifices of a vampire are normally dry unless recently lubricated with blood. That means that any contact with these orifices for another person is either a) dry and cold, or b) bloody and cold. Think about that before you kiss, or whatever.

No Physical Fatigue

The feeling of being 'tired' for humans arises from a build-up of what are called 'fatigue poisons' in the system. These are waste by-products in the cells and blood that come from cellular activity, and once they reach a certain level, they impair function and the body shuts down to clean them out. These are the same chemicals that cause 'muscle burn' when exercising. Since a vampire's cells do not function and burn nothing, no such poisons are produced. Therefore a vampire never feels tired or fatigued (save perhaps mentally, which is psychological, not physical). From sundown to sunrise, they are at their peak. They never experience fatigue, aches, stiffness, muscle cramps, or any other side effect of activity. They feel 100% at all times as long as they have a sufficient amount of blood in their system.


The human body produces scent in dozens of different ways, from hair oil to sweat to breath to less savoury means. The entire combination of scents produces a unique signature smell, just like in any other animal. Vampires have none of these means of producing scent, but it does not mean they are without a distinct smell. Most importantly they would smell like blood, especially near their mouth and nose, and they would smell like the environments in which they spend their time. Foreign scents like smoke and incense still cling to them normally, and if they wear perfumes or use common toiletries like shampoo, then all these smells combined will form a unique scent for each vampire.


A Need for Blood

The Blood is everything to a vampire. It is every meal, every breath, every thought, every feeling, every action they have ever or will ever take. It is their first, last, and only requirement, their best friend, and at times their worst enemy.
Blood is burned with every sunrise, every wound an sometimes with the use of vampiric powers. A vampire low on blood experiences a maddening Hunger, to the point where their Beast takes over. When a vampire runs out of Blood it goes into Torpor. When there is no Blood in their system what-so-ever, they cease to exist. Hence, in order to ensure they never run low, a result a vampire needs to drink blood and hunt.
Vampires have a pair of retractable fangs that can extend or retract when the vampires wants them to. The bite of a vampire causes aggravated damage, but a vampire may heal their own bite with a lick of the tongue.
More detail on a vampire's need for blood can be found here.

No Eating or Drinking (except Blood)

The vampire body no longer requires human food or drink. It gains no nourishment from these things, and by consequence it will not react to them with feelings of longing when they are present. Food does not smell or taste good any longer, except in purely psychological ways. The only substance the vampire body allows is blood. The rest it will refuse (even water) and it requires a conscious act of will (a point of Willpower) to suppress the urge to vomit, while forcing it down the throat.
Some vampires have the Masquerade Skill which allows them to mimic consuming human food, but at some point in the evening they have to throw it back up again, because they do not digest it in any way, and it does not pass through them.


The Sun

The sun is the bane of vampires, more so than any other thing in the world. Sunlight has two effects on vampires. The first, and most dramatic, is that sunlight burns a vampire much faster, and much more thoroughly, than it burns humans. In seconds, a vampire can be reduced to a smoking pile of ash. A narrow beam of sunlight can burn off a hand or limb.
The second effect is that during the daytime, vampires sleep. The call of the daytime slumber is nigh irresistible, and only with great effort can vampire remain conscious into the later morning.
More detail on the effects of the Sun can be found here.


The outer tissues of a vampire's body are unusually dry compared to humans, since all endocrine systems have ceased functioning. A burn for a human is a blistering and cracking of the skin under heat. For a vampire the burning is more thorough and quick - and as a result they fear it instinctively.
More detail on a vampire's need for blood can be found here.


Staking is the process of spearing a vampire through the heart with a wooden stake, or some similar wooden pointy object. A stake does not kill a vampire. However, it does paralyze them. A vampire that is staked through the heart with a wood object, cannot take any actions other than drink, or whisper until someone else removes the stake. This inability to take actions includes any use of vampire powers such as disciplines.
More detail on a staking can be found here.


A vampire's body is already dead, and it cannot be killed by regular means. A vampire meets final death:
1) When it receives at least one level of aggravated damage (Examples of aggravated damage include fire, sun, vampire teeth, or Wolf Claws.) while Incapacitated or in torpor, when the vampire has no vitae.
2) When it is decapitated. (Note: Game-systems require you to follow the rules under -1-)
3) When it's Heart's Blood or Essence is removed (Diablerie).
More detail on a vampire's Final Death need for blood can be found here.


Animals know vampires for what they are, no matter how "nice" a monster they think of themselves as being. Herbivores will generally flee unless young are threatened, while carnivores may flee or attack, but in general they will make a spectacle of themselves and it will be somewhat obvious that the vampire is the focus of their anxiety.
More detail on animal reactions to vampires can be found here.

Garlic, Crosses, Holy Water etc.

Urban myths would make vampires subject susceptible to garlic, crosses, holy water etc. However, this is not true in this game. Vampires do not suffer consequences from these would-be banes, except when in the hands of gifted individuals or when the vampire suffers a specific Stigma.

This article has been adjusted from Belladona's "Vampire Facts" (from

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Original Work is licensed under a CC Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 US License.